"Don't. (...) One day you will have the opportunity to remove Excalibur from its stone. And you mustn't. Leave the sword alone."
Says a mysterious cinema usher to a very young Emma Swan. It's Minneapolis 1989. Disney's "The Sword in the Stone" is playing in a theatre. How does this usher know her name? Why does he tell her not to take the sword from the stone? He says if you do something you're not supposed to do, even if you do it for a good reason, bad things will happen. A young terrified Emma watches young Wart pull Excalibur from the stone as our screen fades to black and then to 3 knights galloping across the land: it's King Arthur, Lancelot and another knight! Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone... an incomplete Excalibur which is missing the tip.
In this Camelot Merlin has been missing for some time, but before he left prophesied that Emma and the others would arrive to find him. And thus Arthur knew exactly when and where to find the gang from Storybrooke upon their arrival (via a magic portal opened using Light and Dark magic and a wand that Merlin left for his Apprentice). He welcomes them and leads them to Camelot.
Six Weeks Later. They're all back in Storybrooke, with no memories of their time in Camelot. And Emma in full "Dark One" mode. She has become the Dark Swan.
Dark Swan Quotes
"You went to Camelot to get the Darkness out of me. And you failed."
"For what you all did to me, you're about to be punished."
"Emma, why are you doing this? (Hook)
Because. I'm the Dark One."
'Tis a very ominous opening to season 5 - aptly titled "The Dark Swan" - taking off mere seconds after the season 4 finale. Looks like the episodes will alternate between "now" in Storybrooke with Dark Swan, and flashbacks to their time and Camelot to see how they failed there. So this means we should get plenty of time to find out what this version of King Arthur and his knights are like! :o)
Elements from Arthurian Legend
- Merlin - only mentioned, although... who was that mysterious usher?
- Excalibur (the real one, not the false sword from s03e02)
- King Arthur - dashing, good looking guy... seems a bit superficial though
- Lancelot - not exiled or dead!!! (c.f. episode s02e01) Although who knows exactly when this takes place in the timeline... could be he just hasn't been exiled/killed yet.
- Sir Kay - Arthur's foster brother of legend. He beats Arthur to Excalibur, but when he tries to pull it out, ignoring Arthur's warning of Merlin's prophecy... he gets turned to dust!
- Camelot - Looking like your typical medieval fantasy castle, with turrets and pennants and all.
Other fun (non-Arthurian) characters
She's looking for a way to retrieve her brothers who have been kidnapped from the united clans who refuse to recognize her as Queen after her father's death. Unfortunately for her she runs into Emma just as she has Rumplestiltskin whispering in her ear and almost has her heart crushed by Emma.
- Zelena, a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West
Still hanging around in Storybrooke (not by choice), waiting for her and Robin's child to be born. Gets tricked into opening a cyclone portal which takes them all to Camelot by lifting up Granny's diner.